Of the players coming into the leave via the 2013 NBA Draft, there is no one I was higher on coming into this season than Orlando Magic rookie and second-overall pick Victor Oladipo. When it comes to NBA-translatable skills, Oladipo appears to have the highest quantity of skills and, for the most part, some of the most NBA-ready parts of his game out of his draft class.
Before the 2013-14 season started, though, the Magic made it clear that they weren’t going to throw Oladipo to the wolves immediately and were going to bring him off of the bench and keep his minutes limited, at least at the start of the season. Though it’s only been nine games, the Magic seem wise for making that decision.
In a comeback win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night, Oladipo played 22 minutes off of the bench and finished the night with 10 points, two rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block, though he shot just 4-14 from the field. He contributed in a number of ways, but his poor efficiency and two turnovers in a small amount of playing time only strengthen the Magic’s case for keeping him restrained a bit.
In the eight games prior to Wednesday, Oladipo is averaging 12.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.6 steals in 25.6 minutes per game. However, he’s also turning the ball over 3.6 times per game, shooting just 40.7 percent from the floor and hitting on only 33.3 percent of his three-point attempts.
It’s already quite clear that Oladipo is an NBA-caliber talent well worthy of a number two pick, especially in a down draft class. However, Oladipo’s transition to the league isn’t going to be an easy one for him as he’s working on a change of position in addition to adjusting to the NBA game. It’s incredibly savvy of Orlando to realize this and not just let him go into a situation that he’s not ready for.
If I had to speculate, I would say that Oladipo is just starting what he’s going to show us this season. As he gets more comfortable handling the ball in an NBA offense and with the NBA style of play, I think he’ll be everything that his supporters want him to be. Maybe when that happens, the Magic can let him loose a little more and possibly make him a starter. Until that time, though, Orlando is making the smart choice.